Friday, March 14, 2008

A Spiritual Psalter from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian

21

Thou to Whom the penitent are pleasing, incline Thyself to me, a sinner. Fill me with the crumbs from Thy great banquet; do not let my life perish at the left side in darkness. May Thy truth not behold the terrible impurity of my misery in that great morning when the sentence unto eternity shall be pronounced.

The joy of this world is better. Woe to him who is seduced by it! As a boat is tossed by waves, so is my life convulsed by my misery. Vain joy captures it with the illusion of satisfaction. Be Thou my helmsman and steer my ship to Thy harbor in that great morning when the sentence unto eternity shall be pronounced.

God loves the sinner when he comes to repentance and, with his eyes full of tears, sighing and sobbing, he cries out to Him: O our Lord, deliver me from fire! I pray Thee, accept the tears of my misery. Voluntarily have I sinned before Thee, yet voluntarily do I also repent.

So come forth boldly, O sinner. The door is already open and ready to receive you. Bring the Lord a sacrifice of tears and go freely to Him. He does not demand fits, nor does He have any respect of persons. He is kindhearted to men and willingly forgives the sins of repentant sinners.


22

Blessed is the man who has the fear of God in him, for the Holy Spirit calls him blessed, saying: blessed is the man who fears the Lord.

Blessed is the man who has the love of God in him, for he bears God in himself. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God.

Blessed is he who has attained endurance, for a long-suffering man is great in understanding.

Blessed is he who is a stranger to anger and irritability, for anger does not beget a man of God's truth.

Blessed is he who has loved meekness, according to the Lord's word: blessed are the meek.

Blessed is he who has attained true obedience, for such a man imitates the Lord our Savior, Who was obedient even unto death.

Blessed is he who is a stranger to envy and rivalry, for it was by envy that death came into the world.

Blessed is he who does not defile his tongue with slander, for the heart of a slanderer is full of all manner of defilement.

Blessed is he who has attained abstinence, for this one virtue is a buttress for all the rest.

Blessed is he who is charitable to the poor, for he will find many to defend him at the judgement.

Blessed is he who leads and exalted life yet maintains an humble persuasion: he imitates Christ and with Him he shall sit in glory.

Blessed is he who forces himself to perform all manner of good deeds, for the forceful shall capture the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed is he who walks the straight path, for he will enter heaven bearing a crown.

Blessed are all these, for they shall stand boldly before the Judge and receive a holy reward from His hands.


23

We confess one and the same individual as perfect god and perfect Man. He is God the Word Which was flesh.

For if He was not flesh, why was Mary chosen? And if He is not God, whom does Gabriel call Lord?

If He was not flesh, who was laid in a manger? And if He is not god, whom did the angels who came down from heaven glorify? If He was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if He is not God, in whose honor did the star appear?

If He was not flesh, whom did Simeon hold in his arms? And if He is not God, to whom did Simeon say: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph take when he fled into Egypt? And if He is not god, who fulfilled the prophesy: Our of Egypt have I called my Son?

If He was not flesh, whom did John baptize? And if He is not God, to whom did the Father say: This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased?

If He was not flesh, who hungered in the desert? And if He is not God, unto whom did the angels come and minister?

If He was not flesh, who was invited to the marriage in Cana of Galilee? And if He is not God, who turned the water into wine?

If He was not flesh, who took the loaves in the desert? And if He is not God, who fed the five thousand men and their women and children with five loaves and two fishes?

If he was not flesh, who slept in the ship? And if He is not God, who rebuked the waves and the sea?

If He was not flesh, with whom did Simon the Pharisee sit at meat? And if He is not God, who forgave the sins of the harlot?

If He was not flesh, who wore a man's garment? And if He is not God, who healed the woman with an issue of blood when she touched His garment?

If He was not flesh, who spat on the ground and made clay? And if He is not God, who gave sight to the eyes of the blind man with that clay?

If He was not flesh, who wept at Lazarus' grave? And if He is not god, who commanded him to come forth out of the grave four days after his death?

If He was not flesh, whom did the Jews arrest in the garden? And if He is not God, who cast them to the ground with the words: I am He?

If He was not flesh, who was judged before Pilate? And if he is not God, who frightened Pilate's wife in a dream?

If he was not flesh, whose garments were stripped from Him and parted by the soldiers? And if He is not God, why was the sun darkened upon His crucifixion?

If He was not flesh, who was crucified on the cross? And if He is not God, who shook the foundations of the earth?

If He was not flesh, whose hands and feet were nailed to the cross? And if He is not God, how did it happen that the veil of the temple was rent in twain, the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened?

If He was not flesh, who hung on the cross between the two thieves? And if He is not God, how could He say to the thief: Today thou shalt be with me in paradise?

If He was not flesh, who cried out and gave up the ghost? And if He is not God, whose cry caused many bodies of the saints which slept to arise?

If He was not flesh, whom did the women see laid in the grave? And if He is not God, about whom did the angel say to them: he has arisen, He is not here?

If He was not flesh, whom did Thomas touch when he put his hands into the prints of the nails?

And if He is not God, who entered through the doors that were shut?

If He was not flesh, who ate at the sea of Tiberias? And if He is not god, on whose orders were the nets filled with fishes?

If He was not flesh, whom did the apostles see carried up into heaven? And if He is not God, who ascended to the joyful cries of the angels, and to whom did the Father proclaim: sit at My right hand?

If He is not God and man then, indeed, our salvation is false, and false are the pronouncements of the prophets.


24

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Our Savior! Grant me, Thy servant, contrition and enlightenment of heart, that with an enlightened heart, tears of sweetness might spring forth in pure prayer, that it might not take many of my tears for Thee to erase the record of my sins, and that for the sake of brief lamentation thou mightest extinguish the fire kindled in me. For if, O Master, thou allowest me to weep here, then wilt Thou free me from inextinguishable fire.

I know, O longsuffering and man-befriending Lord, that every day and hour I embitter and anger Thee greatly, but the kindness of Thy endurance will vanquish my malice and bitterness.

O Lord, Who lovest good and art a God of mercy and compassion! Save me from the terrible corrupt enemy, who hourly fetters and persecutes my soul with evil and corrupt thoughts.

Ineffable is Thy strength, O Christ, for it rebuked the waves of the sea. May it rebuke him, may it render him ineffectual, and may it banish him far from me Thy servant.

Every day he renews his treachery against me and he hastens to take possession of my crippled mind and to distance me from Thee and from Thy divine Commandments.

But, O Master, O most merciful Lord, quickly send Thy strength and chase from me, Thy worthless servant, this might serpent with all of his cunning and shameful thoughts, that I might in purity praise Thee with thine eternal Father and Thine all-holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

2 comments:

properlyscared said...

You are in serious Lenten mode. Refreshing. I am learning about your
(our?) St. Ephraim the Syrian.

John said...

Thanks, properlyscared. St. Ephraim is very special to me. There are 150 of these, so I have a ways to go yet.